A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a friend, a former contestant on a reality show (not Project Runway.)
On her season, there was one contestant who was pretty much loathed by the other competitors. They singled her out, ostracized her, and bitched a lot that she stayed in the competition while other, superior talents bit the dust.
I made the case to my friend that this treatment wasn’t fair, that it was standard group mentality to find a mutual enemy, and that this poor woman was the victim of an old fashioned bullying campaign.
My friend thought about this for a long while before responding: “No. She was just really fucking annoying.”
And so it is with Michael Costello on this season of Project Runway. Maybe he really does have no construction skills. Maybe he really is two-faced. Maybe he really is a rank amateur.
But I have a news flash, kids: That rank amateur is kicking your butts.
Look, I don’t know about you, but I am always going to root for the Michael Costellos of the world. I can’t help myself. I hate group think in all its forms. Frankly, I love Casanova just a little bit more because he defends Michael C. and acknowledges that hey, maybe the kid has talent.
Anyway, the awkwardness of last week’s epic episode is still reverberating. Michael C has to walk around the house knowing that everyone thinks he sucks.
And Gretchen has to walk around the studio knowing that Tim Gunn hates her.
“They really threw me under the bus,” says Michael, the understatement of the century. They threw him under a fleet of buses.
(An aside: Can we come up with another damn metaphor for being hosed by your friends? Can’t there be something from Shakespeare? “Et tu, you pack of Brutus bitches!.” Or a reference to some other heavy, fast moving thing, like a bulldozer? Or Ray Lewis? Or how bout even a fashion metaphor: “They stuck me like a pin cushion.” When did the bus become the ultimate instrument of betrayal?)
As for Gretchen, she’s still insisting that she isn’t manipulative.
Valerie puts it most euphemistically: “She does have a propensity to fall into a role of leadership without realizing it.”
(If speaking of Mao Tse-Tung, Valerie would probably say: “He does have a propensity for genocide without realizing it.”)
So today’s challenge is the bridesmaid challenge. This should in no way remind you of last season’s bride challenge. Last season, a bunch of divorced women of various shapes and sizes paraded on stage in their hideous bridal gowns. This season, a bunch of single women of various shapes and sizes paraded on stage in their hideous bridesmaid gowns. Totally different, see?
Whatevs. It’s a good challenge. And those bridesmaids were funny.
“Hi, I’m Kim and I don’t know if you noticed, but I have a vertical bow on my chest.”
This got a huge laugh from the designers but you could see the other bridesmaid looking at her jealously: There could be jokes? No one said there could be jokes!
“I look like a Jolly Rancher!” said another bridesmaid, not wanting to be outdone. (She was right, by the way.)
The funniest part of the selection process was when Mondo picked a gal in a bright pink dress. The dress was ugly enough from the front, but when she turned to walk back stage, she revealed a giant white stripe that went down the entire back of her dress.
Never has the phrase “bridesmaid in the front, party in the back” been more apt.
Mondo was justifiably freaked.
In the studio, Michael D is in a panic because his bridesmaid is “volumptuous.” (His word.) As always is the case when the designers have to design for a plus-size woman, Michael D. acts like this is the heaviest, most burdensome cross any designer has ever had to bear. Suck it up, brother. (He eventually does, but still acts like he’s the patron saint of cellulite for doing his job.)
The aforementioned awkward moment between Tim Gunn and Gretchen transpires, but she’s had a Skype chat with her mom (proving that even brutal dictators can have nice, supportive moms) and is actually pretty mature about things.
“I need him to help me assess the task at hand, not be an emotional mentor for me,” she says.
And Gunn is relatively impressed with her hombre design.
Also, suddenly he and Casanova are seeing eye-to-eye.
“I like this, it’s sporty,” says Tim.
“Exactly,” says Casanova.
“I like this blousssant,” says Tim.
“Exactly,” says Casanova.
“I’m really happy with what you’re doing. And you have immunity!” says Tim.
“Exactly,” says Casanova.
Clearly someone told Casanova to say “exactly” to everything Tim Gunn says and so far, it’s working like a charm! I’m going to try this strategy in the office.
Tim has a special announcement: There will no runway show tomorrow, instead there will be a designer’s showcase where regular people (ewwww!) will be able to come in and vote for their favorite design.
So they go to this showroom and it’s sort of awkward in a “please don’t feed the designers” sort of way. The designers are standing next to their models, who are on little raised platforms—and everyone’s begging for votes. (I think this is very similar to how they select whores in Amsterdam.)
And everyone loves sassy little Mondo and his sassy little dress and tragic little Michael C, whose cuddly underdog status is clear even to outsiders.
Even Peach manages to get a vote or two, despite her monstrosity of a dress, mostly because she’s like that cool mom on the block who always let you drink beer in the basement.
There’s some sort of brouhaha, because Ivy has gotten wind of the fact that Michael C. is telling the customers that she’s a bitch and that they shouldn’t vote for her.
Could it be true?
The next day, Michael C. faces this accusation head-on.
“I said no such thing,” he says. “I would never in a million years do that to a fellow competitor.” He even claims that his bridesmaid will back him up.
Ivy doesn’t bother to ask.
“I choose not to believe Michael,” Ivy tells the camera later. “I tend to trust people’s character and his track record has proven otherwise”
What track record? Like when he called you lazy and ignorant? Oh wait. That was you.
Cynthia Rowley is the guest judge.
We find out that Mondo got the most votes at the meet and greet. This will be “factored into” the judging, Heidi says. (Or not.)
Mondo’s model is working that runway like Snookie en route to the tanning booth.
Gretchen’s model is totally fierce and actually a lot better than some of the show’s actual models.
Michael D. is wearing a Rosie the Riveter do-rag that confuses me, but his plus-sized model looks happy in her generic little cocktail dress. (Too bad she’s about to get crushed.)
Ultimately, Mondo, Valerie, Michael C., Michael D., Peach, and Christopher are the designers with the highest and lowest scores.
There’s mass confusion in the green room. Who’s on top? Who’s on bottom?
“I’m sure Michael C. is in the bottom,” someone says confidently.
Turns out, the top 3 are Mondo (“feminine and tough at the same time”), Christopher (“fierce.”), and, yes, Michael C. (“edgy and hip”).
Burn, burn, burn! I write in my notes.
The bottom 3, then, are Valerie (“it looks like she’s wearing a maternity bra”), Peach (“looks like an avocado goiter”), and Michael D (“went from bridesmaid to bar mitzvah”).
Heidi kind of defends Valerie a little. “I didn’t hate it,” she says. Valerie will take what she can get.
The judges send the designers away to have their patented little chat.
Backstage, the remaining designers receive the crushing news: They judges floved Michael C’s dress.
“What show am I on, dude?” Gretchen asks.
“I’m super confused. They’re just spinning me in circles,” adds Andy.
“It just makes me crazy!” Gretchen adds.
Meanwhile, Peach has a hunch that she’s puréed .
“My dress was my gift to everyone,” she says. “You guys are all safe.”
The judges are totally hip to what’s been happening with Michael C. in the house.
“You know what I love?” says Heidi with glee. “That last week they were all throwing him under the bus!” (Or, as they say in German: "werfen ihm unter den bus!”).
Michael Kors shakes his orange head, amused. “They said he couldn’t sew!”
Cynthia Rowley can’t help but to join the mocking: “Who made that dress then? It was beautifully constructed.”
So they call the designers back on stage.
It comes down to Mondo vs. Michael.
And, although Mondo won the Showcase vote and had managed to turn that NASCAR dress into something quite chic, Michael C wins!
“Of course you did,” says Ivy. Out loud.
Back on stage, it has come down to Peach vs. Michael D.
“You made your bridesmaid dresses look worse, which we didn’t think was possible,” Heidi says.
Frankly, I think Peach is a peach, but her dress was too ugly for life.
So Peach is pitted.
She goes backstage and is really sweet and smiley and huggy.
“I’ve had the time of my life!” she says.
April is particularly crushed, since they had this whole mother/daughter bonding thing and now April is alone (maybe she can rent out Gretchen’s mom?).
“WTF Peach?” April says. “Now I’m by myself.” Awww.
Even Mondo is living up to his emo look and sniffling.
Tim Gunn comes in, considers making another speech about how much he hates Gretchen, and instead escorts Peach sadly to the work room.